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Starfish and Storms Cost Great Barrier Reef Half Its Coral

The images above show the damage that severe weather and crown of thorns starfish have caused to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest coral reef system. A study from the Australian Institute for Marine Sciences found that over the past 27 years, the Great Barrier Reef has lost more than half of its coral due mostly to storms, a destructive species of starfish and ocean acidification.

On the PBS NewsHour Tuesday, Gwen Ifill will talk with coral reef biologist Nancy Knowlton about what can be done to save the reef.

The NewsHour has been following the troubles of the reef since our first visit in 2005, when Betty Ann Bowser reported on how losing the Great Barrier Reef may mean the loss of valuable medical research.

In 2009, we reported on how ocean acidification was slowing the growth of the reef. Then in 2011, science reporter Jenny Marder covered how heavy floods in Australia were washing pollutants into the coral reef ecosystem, further endangering the reef.

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